The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, chapter name ACT V SCENE I.—BELMONT. AVENUE TO PORTIA'S HOUSE.



Lor. The moon shines bright:—In such a night as this,

When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,

And they did make no noise,—in such a night,

Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls,

And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,

Where Cressid lay that night.

Jes. In such a night

Bid young Lorenzo swear he lov'd me well;

Stealing my soul with many vows of faith,

And ne'er a true one.

Lor. In such a night,

Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,

Slander her love, and he forgave it her.

Jes. I would out-night you, did no body come:

But, hark, I hear the footing of a man.


Lor. Who comes so fast in silence of the night?

Bal. A friend,

Lor. A friend? what friend? your name, I pray you,


Bal. Balthazar is my name: and I bring word,

My mistress will before the break of day

Be here at Belmont.

I pray you, is my master yet return'd?

Lor. He is not, nor we have not heard from him.—

But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,

And ceremoniously let us prepare

Some welcome for the mistress of the house.


Lau. Sola, sola, we ha, ho, sola, sola.

Lor. Who calls?

Lau. Sola! Did you see master Lorenzo, and mistress Lorenzo? sola, sola

Lor. Leave holloing, man; here.

Lau. Sola! where? where?

Lor. Here.

Lau. Tell him, there's a post come from my master, with his horn full of good news; my master will be here ere morning.


Lor. My friend Balthazar, signify, I pray you,

Within the house, your mistress is at hand:

And bring your music forth into the air. Exit BALTHAZAR.

How sweet the moon-light sleeps upon this bank!

Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music

Creep in our ears: soft stillness, and the night,

Become the touches of sweet harmony.

Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven

Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold.

There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st

But in his motion like an angel sings,

Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins:

Such harmony is in immortal souls,

But whilst this muddy vesture of decay

Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.—



It was a lover and his lass,With a hey and a ho, and a hey nonino;That o'er the green corn fields did pass,In the spring-time, the pretty spring time,When birds do sing, hey ding-a-ding, ding:—Sweet lovers love the spring.

And therefore take the present time,With a hey and a ho, and a hey nonino;For love is crowned with the primeIn the spring-time, the pretty spring time,When birds do sing, hey ding-a-ding, ding:—Sweet lovers love the spring.

Jes. I am never merry when I hear sweet music.

Lor. The reason is your spirits are attentive:

For do but note a wild and wanton herd,

If any air of music touch their ears,

You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,

Their savage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze,

By the sweet power of music. Therefore, the poet

Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods;

Since nought so stockish, hard, and full of rage,

But music for the time doth change his nature:

The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;

The motions of his spirit are dull as night,

And his affections dark as Erebus:

Let no such man be trusted.—Mark the music.

Enter PORTIA and NERISSA, at a distance.

Por. That light we see is burning in my hall.

How far that little candle throws his beams!

So shines a good deed in a naughty world. Music! hark!

Ner. It is your music, madam, of the house.

Por. Nothing is good, I see, without respect;

Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

Ner. Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.

Music ceases.

Por. How many things by season season'd are

To their light praise, and true-perfection!—

Lor. That is the voice,

Or I am much deceiv'd, of Portia.

Por. He knows me, as the blind man knows the cuckoo,

By the bad voice.

Lor. Dear lady, welcome home.

Por. We have been praying for our husbands' welfare,

Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.

Are they return'd?

Lor. Madam, they are not yet;

But there is come a messenger before,

To signify their coming.

Por. Go in, Nerissa;

Give order to my servants, that they take

No note at all of our being absent hence;

Nor you, Lorenzo;—Jessica, nor you.

A trumpet sounds.

Lor. Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet:

We are no tell-tales, madam; fear you not.

Enter BASSANIO, ANTONIO, GRATIANO, and their Followers.

Por. You are welcome home, my lord.

Bas. I thank you, madam: give welcome to my friend.—

This is the man, this is Antonio,

To whom I am so infinitely bound.

Por. You should in all sense be much bound to him,

For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.

Ant. No more than I am well acquitted of.

Por. Sir, you are very welcome to our house:

It must appear in other ways than words,

Therefore, I scant this breathing courtesy.

GRATIANO and NERISSA seem to talk apart.

Gra. By yonder moon, I swear you do me wrong;

In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk:

Would he were hang'd that had it, for my part,

Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.

Por. A quarrel, ho, already? What's the matter?

Gra. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring

That she did give to me; whose posy was

For all the world, like cutler's poetry

Upon a knife, 'Love me, and leave me not.'

Ner. What talk you of the posy, or the value?

You swore to me, when I did give it you,

That you would wear it till the hour of death:

And that it should lie with you in your grave;

Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,

You should have been respective, and have kept it.

Gave it a judge's clerk!—but well I know,

The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it.

Gra. He will, an if he live to be a man.

Ner. Ay, if a woman live to be a man.

Gra. Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,—

kind of boy; a little scrubbed boy,

No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk;

A prating boy, that begg'd it as a fee;

I could not for my heart deny it him.

Por. You were to blame, I must be plain with you,

To part so slightly with your wife's first gift:

A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger,

And so riveted with faith unto your flesh.

I gave my love a ring, and made him swear

Never to part with it; and here he stands,—

I dare be sworn for him, he would not leave it,

Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth

That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,

You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief;

An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it.

Bas. Why, I were best to cut my left hand off,

And swear, I lost the ring defending it.


Gra. My lord Bassanio gave his ring away

Unto the judge that begg'd it, and, indeed,

Deserv'd it, too; and then the boy, his clerk,

That took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine:

And neither man, nor master, would take aught

But the two rings.

Por. What ring gave you, my lord;

Not that, I hope, which you receiv'd of me.

Bas. If I could add a lie unto a fault,

I would deny it; but you see, my finger

Hath not the ring upon it, it is gone.

Por. Even so void is your false heart of truth.

By heaven, I will ne'er come in your sight

Until I see the ring.

Ner. Nor I in yours,

Till I again see mine.

Bas. Sweet Portia,

If you did know to whom I gave the ring,

If you did know for whom I gave the ring,

And would conceive for what I gave the ring,

And how unwillingly I left the ring,

When nought would be accepted but the ring,

You would abate the strength of your displeasure.

Por. If you had known the virtue of the ring,

Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,

Or your own honour to contain the ring,

You would not then have parted with the ring.

What man is there so much unreasonable,

If you had pleas'd to have defended it

With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty

To urge the thing held as a ceremony?

Nerissa teaches me what to believe;

I'll die for't, but some woman had the ring.

Bas. No, by mine honour, madam, by my soul,

No woman had it, but a civil doctor,

Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me,

And begg'd the ring; the which I did deny him,

And suffer'd him to go displeas'd away;

Even he that had held up the very life

Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?

I was enforc'd to send it after him.

Had you been there, I think you would have begg'd

The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

Por. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house:

Since he hath got the jewel that I lov'd,

And that which you did swear to keep for me,

I will become as liberal as you.

Ant. I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.

Por. Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.

Bas. Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;

And in the hearing of these many friends,

I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,

I never more will break an oath with thee.

Ant. I once did lend my body for his wealth;

Which, but for him that had your husband's ring,


Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,

My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord

Will never more break faith advisedly.

Por. Then you shall be his surety: give him this;

And bid him keep it better than the other.

Ant. Here, lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring.

Bas. By heaven it is the same I gave the doctor!

Por. I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio.

Ner. And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano;

For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,

Did give me this.

Gra. Why this is like the mending of highways

In summer, when the ways are fair enough.

Por. You are all amaz'd:

Here is a letter, read it at your leisure;

It comes from Padua, from Bellario:

There you shall find, that Portia was the doctor;

Nerissa there, her clerk: Lorenzo here

Shall witness, I set forth as soon as you,

And but e'en now return'd; I have not yet

Enter'd my house.—Antonio, you are welcome;

And I have better news in store for you

Than you expect: unseal this letter soon,

There you shall find three of your argosies

Are richly come to harbour suddenly:

You shall not know by what strange accident

I chanced on this letter.

Bas. Were you the doctor, and I knew you not?

Gra. Were you the clerk, and I knew you not?

Ant. Sweet lady, you have given me life, and living;

For here I read for certain, that my ships

Are safely come to road.

Por. How now, Lorenzo?

My clerk has some good comforts too for you.

Ner. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.—

There do I give to you Jessica,

From the rich Jew a special deed of gift,

After his death, of all he dies possessed of.

Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way of starved people.

Por. It is almost morning,

And yet I am sure you are not satisfied

Of these events at full: Let us go in;

And charge us there upon inter'gatories,

And we will answer all things faithfully.


Gra. Let it be so, the first intergatory
That my Nerrissa shall be sworne on, is,
Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
Or goe to bed, now being two houres to day,
But were the day come, I should wish it darke,
Till I were couching with the Doctors Clarke.
Well, while I liue, Ile feare no other thing
So sore, as keeping safe Nerrissas ring.


FINIS. The Merchant of Venice.